Foreword - Sudarshan Ramaswamy


Bridget White Kumar’s book on the Kolar Gold Fields is a splendid soliloquy on a very special place, which was, once upon a time, inhabited by some very special people. That’s a very good reason for wanting to read this book.
There are also other reasons, besides its special subject matter, why this book deserves to be read. It’s very readable! It stands out as a true tribute to the success of teachers at the KGF Boys School (where both Bridget and I were pupils for four years) and St. Joseph’s Convent (where Bridget honed her writing skills). Bridget’s language is simple, direct, economical and familiar. Her sentences are grammatical and unambiguous. The rich and diverse material in the book is organized in a logical and orderly way. Moreover, this book is evocative of many of life’s simple pleasures – food and flowers, parties and picnics, and entertaining eccentrics. These features should make this book interesting and enjoyable, even for those who have had nothing to do with KGF.

For those who can share with the author her nostalgia for KGF, the special place, this book will be read with familiar pleasure, and re-read to their progeny who cannot any longer experience the place as it once was, full of vibrant life.

KGF now, with the gold gone, has become a ghost town, where stories are told about phantoms that haunt disused mine shafts, red-eyed monsters that sit atop the sodium-cyanide dumps that dot its landscape, and UFOs wait to be sighted.
There are still more reasons, apart from the sheer pleasure of reading a good, readable book, why this book should appeal to those who have no connection with KGF. At a time of growing concerns about globalization and conflicts over religion, race, and ethnicity the world over, Bridget’s book brings home to it readers that diversity of races, religions, and languages can actually enrich a community, and need not debilitate it.

KGF symbolized an older variant of globalization. It has had long-standing links with the London bullion market, and a high proportion of Anglo-Indians, a living legacy of the British Raj.

These are only few of the factors which gave the denizens of KGF a cosmopolitan outlook, proletarian pride, and mousse manners. Bridget’s book brings out vividly the values and attitudes that make it possible for a community to thrive by celebrating diversity, notwithstanding colonial inequities and inequalities of caste.

All this makes Bridget’s book much more than a good read. It provides nourishment for reflection upon the challenges of our times brought about globalization that is badly in need of the human essence that pervaded the Kolar Gold Fields.

Sudarshan Ramaswamy
(Policy Advisor - Legal Reform and Justice UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Centre, Bangkok 10200 Thailand)

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